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Project - Bonecraft

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Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
Reaction score
Melbourne, Victoria
Project: Bonecraft

Version: 1.0

Author/Instructor: Aussie123

Bone is an ancient and traditional material to use for decorative pieces and for functional tools. Throughout history, bone has been readily available material for a variety of tasks.
This project uses animal bone to produce a simple pressure flaking tool which can be used in the Knapping project.

Tools Required:
- Dust mask (or a respirator)
- A hacksaw (or another suitable saw)
- Fine sandpaper (approx 240 grit is OK, but you can go up to 500 grit for a polished finish (optional))
- Coarse sandpaper (approx 80 grit)
- Water spray bottle (optional)
- A camera to record your results

TIP: use the grades of sandpaper which you have available, its not essential to have these specific sandpaper grits.

You can use power tools to cut (and shape) the bone, however these will produce a lot of dust. Since bone dust is a hazard, and I don't want it spread around my shed, a hacksaw is my preferred cutting tool.

- A bone or section of a bone
- The bone should be thick "walled" and a minimum of 10 cm long. Longer (about 15cm) is ideal.

A section of thick bone from the leg is the best type to use. Bone has structure and "grain" much like wood, since the legs are load bearing bones, they tend to be heavy and dense, which is useful for making a pressure flaker. Other bones are suitable too.

Suitable bones can be obtained from the leftovers from a family roast, from a butcher (often as dog bones), or from a pet shop.
The bone I'm using is a section of bleached bone from a pet shop. This has the benefit that it has already been cleaned and is ready to use, without any preparation.
Preparing a bone for use is outside the scope of this Project.

Skills required:
- Work safely with a potentially hazardous material (bone dust)
- Sawing
- Sanding
- Finishing a bone tool

Time needed: 2 hours

Learning Outcomes:
- Safety when working with bone dust
- How to cut and shape bone
- How to smooth and finish bone
- How to produce a useful bone tool

Assessment Criteria:
To successfully complete this project you must present :
- A picture of a completed bone pressure flaker.
- The picture should show a pointed end and show a clean, finished tool, with no sharp sides or splinters.

- You must include the date on which the task took place
- {URL link to sample Assessment}
- {URL Link to Your Assessment}

Instructions :

Choose a safe area to work which will allow the dispersal of any bone dust produced.
Put on your dust mask (or respirator)
P1300118 (Small).jpg

To make the tool, a strip of bone, about 1cm wide, and at least 10 cm long is required. The tool can be any usable length, but too short and the tool will be difficult to use.
A longer tool will be easier to hold and use, and allows for wear and tear of the point of the tool.
P1300116 (Small).JPG

Step 1:

Start by cutting the bone down the length. Do this outside in a well ventilated area.
P1300120 (Small).JPG

TIP: Use the (optional) spray bottle to dampen any dust as you go.
P1300119 (Small).JPG

You may reach a point where you can’t saw any further because the arm of the saw is in the way. With many hacksaws, you can turn the blade 90 degrees.
This enables you to continue to cut. If you are not able to do this with your saw, you may need to cut from the other end.
P1300122 (Small).jpgP1300123 (Small).JPG

Step 2:
Mark a line approximately 1cm from the edge as a guide to cutting the strip of bone needed for the project

P1300121 (Small).JPG
Step 3:
Cut the strip of bone.
TIP: When handling the bone, beware of sharp splinters.
P1300124 (Small).jpg

Step 4:
Place the coarse sandpaper on a firm surface and rub the bone against it.
Remove any sharp edges and provide some basic shaping.
P1300125 (Small).jpg

Step 5:
Adjust the angle of the bone strip on the sandpaper to create a tapering point at one end. This will be the tip of the pressure flaker.
It is not necessary to make a sharp point, or too narrow a point; too sharp or narrow points will snap off when used.
P1300126 (Small).jpg P1300127 (Small).jpg P1300128 (Small).jpg

Step 6:
Finish the tool with the finer sandpaper. When completed, the bone should be smooth and there should be no sharp edges or spurs, which could cause cuts or splinters when using the tool.
You do not need to use super fine sandpaper to polish the tool.
P1300130 (Small).JPGP1300131 (Small).JPG

There, that’s a simple bone flaker which can be used to knap glass or stone

Cleanup :
- Use a damp cloth to wipe up the bone dust.
- Clean and put away tools. You should wipe the hacksaw with oil to prevent rust
- Dispose of the used sandpaper
- Keep any unused pieces of bone for other projects

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